Britain After Rome: The Age of Arthur

In this video:

  • An extended look at the transition from Roman Britain to Early Medieval Britain in the wake of the collapse of Roman civilization.
  • The collapse happened within a period of 60 years from 360 AD to 420 AD and is roughly equivalent with St. Augustine’s generation.
  • The Romans conquered Britain in 43 AD under Emperor Claudius.
  • The Roman general Agricola campaigned against the Picts in what is now modern Scotland.
  • The Romans built two walls that crossed northern Britain which were the northwestern border of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall. The Romans fell back to Hadrian’s Wall but continued to govern Roman citizens who lived between the two walls.
  • Between the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD and the final withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain in 410 AD, the Britons became fully Romanized.
  • The Romans built large centrally planned urban centers all over Britain with all the features of Roman civilization like roads, bathhouses and villas in the countryside.
  • As the Britons became assimilated to Roman civilization, they became soft and lost their martial culture. They became taxpayers who supported a professional standing army. The Romans brought troops from all over the Roman Empire and stationed them in Britain.
  • The Roman emperor Caracalla’s proclamation that granted Roman citizenship to all free men in the Roman Empire had devastating consequences for the defense of Britain.
  • A series of usurpers – Clodius Albinus, Magnus Maximus and Constantine III – proclaimed themselves to be emperors and repeatedly pulled their troops out of Britain to fight for control of the Western Roman Empire on the continent. This led to several devastating invasions by the Irish, Picts and the Saxons and ultimately to the final conquest of what is now England by the Angles and Saxons.
  • Hengist and Horsa were Jutes from Jutland in northern Denmark who were invited to Britain in 447 AD by the British king Vortigern to repulse the Picts who were ravaging Britain after the Roman withdrawal. The first Anglo-Saxon kingdom was established by the Jutes in Kent.
  • The Roman collapse was less devastating in Wales and northern Britain.
  • Stones from Hadrian’s Wall were used to build Early Medieval churches.
  • In the aftermath of the Roman collapse, the Britons became de-Romanized, reoccupied the old Celtic hill forts and began to rebuild their martial culture but not before suffering devastating losses to the Angles and Saxons.
  • King Arthur was a legendary British king who fought back against the Angles and Saxons somewhere between 410 and 600 AD.
  • Ambrosius Auerlianus was a Romano-British general who for a time stopped the Angles and Saxons in the 5th century.
  • Some Roman cities in the north of Britain lasted longer than others.
  • Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have British origins and were the heartlands of kingdoms of the Old North.
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  1. Agricola used Batavian (Dutch, Frisian, Altoona region) auxiliaries to subdue the Picts. I’d hazard a guess that’s when you get the introduction of English or proto-English speaking communities in Britannia. I understand that Vespasian used around 2,500 Batavian auxiliaries in the Claudian era invasion of Britain. They were good at amphibious operations in the marshes and fens because the terrain and climate was so similar to the Rhine delta and the North Sea coast.

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